By Abigail Kishimoto, Head Culture Co-Writer
Photos from braunability.com and Abigail Kishimoto
Think about it, have you ever seen a student on McKendree’s campus in a wheelchair? For most of us, the answer is no. This is an issue that many students at McKendree have never had to consider, being that we are a campus mainly composed of able-bodied individuals. I would even go as far as to argue that our campus is simply not accessible to those in wheelchairs.
Valerie Prio, an Ed.M. student in higher education at Harvard University, and a wheelchair user, herself, argues that if you cannot find a university’s disability services page within two minutes, then that school is probably a bad fit for a wheelchair user (you can read about this here). I put Valerie’s recommendation to the test and searched for our “Disability Services” page on McKendree’s website. The page itself was easy to find; however, there is no mention of accommodations for those who have differing physical abilities.
Now, I do not want to make it sound as if I am unhappy with McKendree and their efforts to begin to become more accessible for those with physical differing abilities. In fact, newer buildings on campus such as New Residence Halls East/West, Piper Academic Center (PAC), and The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts (The Hett) are wheelchair accessible. Additionally, many of our buildings are historical which prevents the updates needed to make more buildings wheelchair accessible.
To put this in perspective, if a student gets injured playing a sport at McKendree, simply getting to classes is a challenge. Often, when a student gets injured and cannot make it ot the original location where that class is held, classes have to switch buildings entirely. In some cases, students cannot attend class until they have completely recovered. If these accommodations are difficult to make for students who are only temporarily physically hindered, then I would argue that, realistically, we are not accessible for students in wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, this is the case on many college campuses, and individuals in wheelchairs are simply getting left behind in our current society where a college education is crucial to land a job. I’ll leave you with this, “less than one-fifth of working-age wheelchair users are employed” (2), so maybe the first step should be to make a conscious effort to make college campuses more wheelchair accessible. You can read more about this here.